back to Eurotunnel main page
Fuming dans le Shuttle
Performed on 28th March 1994 at Ashford International Hotel, Kent, before an invited audience
Cast (selected from Eurotunnel's Complaints Enterprise Group):
Michel Eldoh: a Frenchman
Sarah Stephenson: Michel's English companion
Jonathan Cane: an Englishman
Susan Reay: Jonathan's companion
Olivier Loiseau: a member of Train Crew
Alain Hochet: Chef de Train and narrator.
Each of the cast is dressed appropriately for his/her role. The scene is Le Shuttle, at the moment of departure.
The stage is laid out with nine chairs to represent the chef de train's poste and two cars. The one in front is supposed to be a Jaguar XJ6 and behind it is a Citroen 2CV. The people in the cars are dressed in stereotypical fashion to be recognisable easily as English or French.
Sarah is frantically rummaging in her handbag for a cigarette, and lighting it with nervous hands.
Michel: Enfin! On marche. Looks at his watch. En trente-cinq minutes exactement on arrive à la belle France. On trouve un hôtel, et ... Tiens, pour toi, c'est la première fois? [We'll be arriving in France in 35 minutes precisely. We'll find a hotel and ... Hey, is this your first time?]
Sarah : Jumps Oh? Ah, oui, sur le shuttle, bien sur, c'est ma première fois. Ça me fait un peu nerveux. [What? Oh, you mean first time on the shuttle, yes it is, that's why I'm a bit nervous.]
They smoke quietly.
Jonathan: lights up a huge cigar and stretches. Unlimited free travel on the Shuttle - one of the little benefits of owning several thousand Eurotunnel shares.
Susan: I noticed that you were behaving as if you owned the place! Did you know that when you jumped the queue, everyone was hooting at us?
Jonathan: Don't worry about them, my dear - just ignore them. Everyone's envious of the XJ6.
Olivier: arrives from behind Michel and SarahMadame et monsieur, il est interdit de fumer sur Le Shuttle. [Excuse me, you can't smoke here.]
Michel: Pardon ... on ne savait pas ... [Sorry, didn't know...] they extinguish cigarettes.
Olivier: arrives opposite Jonathan, who is staring into space. Sir, you are not allowed to smoke on the shuttle.
Susan: to Jonathan. He's talking to you.
Jonathan: As I said, ignore him and he'll go away.
Olivier hesitant, doesn't know what to do.
Michel: to Olivier. Hé, monsieur, l'anglais au cigare, là - les règles ne s'appliquent pas à lui? Vous savez qu'il a déja resquillé dans la queue avant nous autres qui ont du attendre vingt minutes pour embarquement? Je veux bien plaindre de ça. [Hey, mate, what about that Englishman with the cigar - is he beyond the rules or what? D'you know he's already jumped the queue, in front of people like us who'd been waiting twenty minutes to get on?]
Olivier: Je suis désolé, monsieur, mais je ne m'occupe pas de ça, vous devez vous rendre aux agents routiers. [Very sorry sir, that's not my department, you should tell the Road Traffic staff.]
Olivier: goes back to Jonathan. Sir, a customer is complaining about your behaviour.
Jonathan: These Frenchmen! What happened to "La Liberté"? Turns away from Olivier.
Olivier: turns to audience, gives a typical Gallic shrug What can one do?
Michel: to Sarah Je vais restituer "l'Égalité". Regarde-moi! [I'll bring back "Égalité"! Just you watch.]
Michel gets out of car, goes up to Jonathan, reaches through his car window, snatches the cigar and crushes it underfoot, then returns to his own car. Jonathan is stunned and does nothing. A short pause.
Susan: Are you just going to sit there?
Jonathan slowly gets out of car, goes to Michel - reaches through the car window and pulls him out by his tie. Slow motion, dramatic silence.
Olivier: Olivier walks backward away from the action, watching in horror. Then, breaking the silence. Mon Dieu! Où est "la Fraternité"? [My God! Talk about "brotherhood of man!"] Takes out radio. Mon chef! Au secours! On se batte! Arretez le train! [Boss! Help! There's a fight! Stop the train.]
Alain: to audience Mesdames, messieurs, le chef de train, c'est moi. Et je peux vous dire que la drame que vous avez témoignés, était peut-etre la situation qui aurait lieu si la groupe d'entreprise n'aurait pas pris l'initiative. [Ladies and gentlemen, I'm actually the Chef de Train. And I can tell you that the little scene that you witnessed is perhaps what would have happened if the Enterprise Group hadn't done something about it.]
Voyons bien ce qui manquait. [Let's see what was missing.]
Mr Loiseau was not prepared for the situation. He did not work with a clear policy. He was not able to deal with a purely local situation - a customer complaint about others smoking in the shuttle. He allowed the customer to take his own direct action, which led to a bad situation.
He did not have a way to accept a complaint about an earlier incident, which was a matter for the traffic marshals. And of course in calling for help to me, the chef de train, he was admitting total failure to deal with the situation. These customers will feel that their trip by Shuttle was a mistake they'd rather not repeat.
So, an Enterprise Group representing not just Train Crew and Traffic Marshals, but all departments of Eurotunnel, put its heads together and drafted out a solution.
So far we haven't had the opportunity to test the success of our scheme in real life, but this is how we think the same scenario should have gone. I'll get back to the Chef de Train's position, whilst you watch. Commencer Prise de vue 2! [Let's have Take 2.]
Michel: Enfin, on marche. [At last, we're off.]
Sarah: Nous avons attendu vingt minutes déja, mais tu vois l'anglais en avant - il a resquillé sans attendre point. [We've already waited twenty minutes, but did you see that Englishman in front? He jumped the queue and didn't have to wait at all.]
Michel: Quel salaud! [Bastard!]
Jonathan: to Susan You see all this? It's shareholders like me that made it all possible. I don't suppose their employees appreciate that.
Susan: The other passengers certainly don't. They hooted at you for jumping the queue to get on this train.
Jonathan: Don't worry about these little people. They daren't touch anyone like me. Puffs on cigar and shakes ash out of the window.
Olivier: to Michel Madame, Monsieur, je dois vous rappeler qu'il est interdit de fumer sur le Shuttle. [Sir, I have to remind you that smoking is not allowed on the Shuttle.]
Sarah: Pardon, je ne savais pas, c'est ma première fois. [Sorry, I didn't know that, it's my first time, you see.] Michel and Sarah extinguish their cigarettes.
Michel: Oui bien, mais vous devez empêcher aussi cet anglais de fumer son cigare. J'ai une plainte contre lui. Apres nous avons attendu vingt minutes dans la queue, il va au devant de moi sans point attendre. Ce n'est pas juste! [OK, but you'd better stop that Englishman smoking his cigar. I've got a bone to pick with him. After we'd been waiting 20 minutes in the queue, he sneaked in front of me without having to wait at all. It's not fair!]
Olivier: Oui, monsieur. Je vous écoute en un moment. [OK sir, I'll be with you in a second.] moving to Jonathan. Sir, you should know that smoking is not permitted on the shuttle.
Jonathan: carefully refusing to look in his direction: Oh, ignore him and he'll have to go away.
Olivier: I'll see you in a minute, sir. goes back to Michel Vous voulez faire une réclamation, monsieur? [Do you wish to make a complaint, sir?] If you have had a problem with our service, I can ensure that your comments get passed to the right people, so that we can make sure something like this doesn't happen again.
Michel: Bien sur, ça me plait bien si on pourrait empêcher cet espèce de gens de resquiller. Ça m'enrage ... [I certainly will. It would be good if that kind of person was stopped from queue-jumping. It makes my blood boil.]
Olivier: Alors monsieur, si vous serez si gentil, mettez votre nom et adresse là, et ajoutez les details de l'incident. Je vous rejoignerai tout de suite. [Now, sir, if you would be so kind, put your name and address there, and describe the incident. I'll be back in a moment.] returns to Jonathan. Now, sir. What are we going to do about this cigar smoking? Do I have to remind you of the regulations?
Susan: to Jonathan He's so persistent - what are you going to do?
Jonathan: getting a bit rattled. All right! I can handle this. to Olivier Look, my man, I don't thnk you realise who you're talking to. I'm a shareholder you know, and I could get you fired for your insolence. A word from me to Sir Alastair, that's all it needs.
Olivier: stands his ground Sir, let me help you. Reaches in his bag for comment forms You'll need to quote the details of who was rude to you, and the circumstances. Feel free to put your name and address here, sir, and I can assure you of a rapid response. My name is Olivier Loiseau, let me write that down here for you, and the date and time.
Jonathan: Now, I'll tell you what, I've got a better idea. I'll put this cigar out - there! Now will you just go away and leave us alone?
Olivier: Thank you, sir. Returns to Michel Comment vous allez avec la fiche? Ne vous inquiétez pas de l'heure et la date, je vais remplir ces details moi-même. Alors, vous recevez de nous au moins un accusé de réception dans deux jours normalement. Cependant, nous ferons des enquêtes en suivi de votre rapport et nous essayons de finaliser notre réponse en huit jours. Voilà une carte qui porte le numéro d'assistance en cas d'autres questions. Finalement, je regrette beaucoup ce dérangement et vous souhaite un bon voyage après tout. [How are you getting on with the form? Don't bother about the time and date, I can fill in them myself. Now, you should get an acknowledgement at least within a couple of days. In the meantime, we'll investigate your report and try to complete our response in a week or so. Here's a card with our helpline number if you need anything else. May I apologise on behalf of Eurotunnel for the inconvenience and hope you enjoy your trip despite the little bit of bother.]
Sarah: Vous etes très gentil. [That's nice of you.]
Michel: J'admire beaucoup votre traitement de l'anglais. Comment vous faites comme ça? [I like the way you dealt with the Englishman. How do you do it?]
Olivier: Il y a des gens qui ne comprendent que "the iron fist in the velvet glove", n'est-ce pas? [With some people, you've just got to be polite yet stand firm.]
Jonathan: to Susan I think I put that young man in his place, don't you? It's just a question of showing them who's boss.
Susan: snuggling up to him Mmm, you make a girl feel so secure.
Alain: to audience This time the outcome was very different. The crew member, Olivier, had hidden allies to help him in a difficult situation that could easily turn nasty. What are these hidden allies? A well-thought out policy of being polite, tactful but firm. A means of allowing anger to be defused, even when he cannot directly deal with it, as in the situation where something unfair occurred during the marshalling. A centralised complaints handling group, run by Customer Services, which not only undertakes to respond to the customer, but also to notify the department concerned that a problem seems to have occured - in this case in the Traffic Marshals department.
The work of the Enterprise Group will need to continue, to ensure that customers always get a swift response, and that the cause of their complaint is dealt with.
Note 1: After this, because it seemed all a bit too much fun to be serious stuff, we had to show some boring slides about the complaints system. It was a good system though.
Note 2: Anyone who was present may recall that the words uttered by the "actors" were different to those penned here. They either forgot them and ad libbed, or they had objected to them during rehearsals for a variety of reasons and made up their own.
back to Eurotunnel main page